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'Meet and greet' emphasis pleases exhibitors

Four Oaks offers exhibitors chance to boost client base

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Some exhibitors who attended last week’s Four Oaks show in Cheshire say that it is now more of a meet-and-greet event than a place where growers come to order — but is no worse for it. Marketing manager Stuart Lowen, of Oxfordshire-based seed and young plant supplier Ball Colegrave, said: “It’s a very productive show and we catch up with customers from all around the country. It has a good pull for growers and retailers, but years ago we were taking orders and getting leads. “Now it is generally a meet and greet, where people catch up on products and discuss plans for meetings. People don’t come to buy now; they come to talk. Everyone you talk to says they don’t sell like they used to. Buying patterns have changed. People are making buying decisions later.” Ball Colegrave sales team manager Andrew Wallis said: “You might take small orders, but this is a promotional exercise where the thought process starts. It is a refresher from our open days. “Over the years, the number of new leads we get has reduced. The trend over recent years is for fewer start-up businesses so we are reforging contacts with our loyal customer base.” Business development manager Roger Godfrey of the Nottingham-based label maker Hortipak said: “It’s a showcase.” However, he said he expected “a couple of hundred” sales leads to come from the show, adding: “We don’t have the chance in other months to make instant contacts to grow distribution.” Four Oaks organiser Pat Coutts said: “I don’t think it is just a meet and greet from people I’ve spoken to. It may depend on the product. It’s certainly a selling show.”

This article was first published on Horticulture Week

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